A Dream of Memphis BBQ Dies in Montclair

Scott Hermo, a longtime fan of Memphis (Bluff City) barbecue, gave his heart, soul and carpentry skills to create Bluff City BBQ in Montclair. The restaurant got off to a fast start, but after two years proved unsustainable, and shut down this week. He talks about his sad decision.

Scott Hermo, a former bond broker/trader and long time fan of Memphis (Bluff City) barbecue, opened Bluff City BBQ two years ago in the large space on Midland Avenue that for 12 years had been the very popular Osteria Giotto. Bluff City got off to a fast start, but in the end was unable to sustain the momentum.

Hermo transformed the osteria into a fun space with a bluesy southern vibe complete with retro signs and posters, handmade benches and tabletops made of old doors he’d collected and covered with plate glass.

A longtime resident of Montclair, Hermo says he “knew it was a competitive market and that the menu would have to appeal to a wide range of tastes.

“We wanted,” he adds, “to offer more than barbecue, and in fact our shrimp and grits and our fried chicken were among our bestsellers. We made everything in house, from scratch, including our barbecue sauces, which were very popular.

“My wife and our kids worked there, and we had a great time,” he says. “In the end, though, we became a spot for larger groups to celebrate special occasions on the weekends. We were never able to attract a large enough core of repeat customers to maintain a 76-seat restaurant.

“While the day-to-day aspects of running the restaurant proved difficult,” he concluded, “both my wife and I enjoyed the customer interactions, and we will miss that.”

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